Jamb statues from the Royal Portal at Chartres
Interior of Chartres Cathedral Diagram
The main body of the cathedral at Chartres was built after the fire of 1194. On the exterior, we see another
hallmark of Gothic architecture: the flying buttress. Flying buttresses serve the same function as the gallery
vaults of Romanesque churches—they support the high walls of the nave and carry the weight of the vault
outward and down. The flying buttress, however, is only composed of open arches; the supporting
members are not hidden inside walls as they are in Romanesque gallery vaults. The buttresses allow large
windows to open directly onto the nave, flooding it with light from the clerestory.
The interior of the nave shows the repeated pointed arches of the nave arcade. Above the nave arcade is
a series of small, decorative arches called the triforium, and then above the triforium is the clerestory with
its expanse of stained-glass windows. The rose window on the west façade also dates from this phase of
work; the huge round stained-glass window is framed with rather heavy tracery; in later Gothic cathedrals,
the tracery becomes more delicate, creating a more unbroken expanse of stained glass.